Eyewear is the interface between intimacy and being in the public eye, between seeing sharply and not being seen sharply – more than any other accessory it sets the stage for our face. Over the years, shades have become the visor of celebrities, the identifying mark of artists, the signature pieces of fashion designers, and often the masks of anonymity.
The expansion of perception, observation, penetration, recognition and focus would become through eyewear, and later through the media, part of our main and essential occupation. How many feasts for the eyes, spectacles, shows would not be able to attract our attention, would be lost to us? The road was long from the first visual aid to an accessory of the greatest technological and design perfection.
In 1964, we introduced the first Silhouette eyewear to the world.
Let the show begin and watch the next fifty years!!
1964 – Silhouette could not have picked a better time to be born: in the middle of an energetic decade in a boom, marked by innovation and technological euphoria. Non conformity and pop culture created the basis for something truly new: a lifestyle of consumption. As part of a never before seen hedonism, designer brands advanced to status symbols and designers to pop stars.
Complete outfits made up the fashion scene, opaque pantyhose heightened colour intensity and regulated proportions. More than anything though, it was the accessories for the simply cut clothes that created the look– with eyewear being indispensable. Along the lines of “Anyone can be a star”, Silhouette made an essential contribution to self-presentation.
The first eyewear left the plant in Linz in 1964 – for the eyewear world of those days, it was unconventional, a narrow square shape with dark frames that made a strong statement. Two years later people in almost all European countries and Canada were wearing Silhouette. The brand with the new philosophy struck like a bolt out of the blue, revolutionizing sight through and the view on eyewear.
The 1970s brought along a new feeling of freedom: love, peace and music was the motto of the times, shaped by a young generation of peace lovers.
To make the look perfect, the styling had to be uniform from head to toe – and the eyewear had to match the life(style). Silhouette eyewear – absolutely essential accessories by now – encapsulated precisely the polarity of the various looks: the future with the space-age Futura 570 eyewear (which were to become the prime sunglasses of the 1970s, worn also by Elton John) – each of the dark lenses framed by wide crisscrossing plastic bars, or the romantic past in the form of rosy lilac-tinted butterfly eyewear in an XL size.
In the midst of an era of very feminine, decorative, oversized eyewear, Silhouette introduced a completely contrasting concept to the market that is being continuously perfected even now and was to become Silhouette’s core competency: the first rimless eyewear.
Save the Future! Stop and Think! No More Fashion Victims! No War! Choose Life! These political-ecological slogans on the famed T-shirts of Katharine Hamnett let us reconstruct the thoughts and fears of the time.
Between post-atomic “no future” fashion – by Comme des Garcons – in gray/black with holes and the glamorous gowns that seemed to be from the set of the TV cult series “Dynasty”, as well as a boom in fitness clothing or Flashdance fashion (colourful leotards, leggings, headbands and leg warmers) and the oversized style stemming from hip-hop are what moved the fashion scene of the 1980s. The fashions of the 1980s could also be colourful, sassy and spectacular – people were crazy about neon, in make-up and costume jewelry, too.
A broad palette of the most varied creations were offered by Silhouette: colourless, transparent frames, giant lenses, whose temples were not set at the top as usual, but right at the very bottom, curvy evening models and very angular, at times octagonal, austere eyewear. Beyond that, matching earrings by Silhouette were available for completing the individual statement.
The sensation: a never before seen wave of exposure and dissolution is what characterized the last decade of the millennium. The catchwords were: transparency in layers one on top of the other and the navel was the new décolleté. All previously valid codes were ‘destroyed’, everything was combined in a new way: a jeans jacket with a luxurious evening gown, a pair of snake leather trousers with a casual T-shirt.
Silhouette created black shades with temples laced like a corset, and there were decorations such as African wild animal patterns, beads threaded through the temple, or deep red Chinese lacquer. Massimo Iosa Ghini was engaged, his subtle-ironic play with arcs and ellipses were the perfect choice for the Silhouette eyewear design of the times.
One of the very special moments was in 1999 when the first Titan Minimal Art eyewear by Silhouette hit the market – you could practically place a whole new dimension on your nose that could not be felt and could barely be seen, a technological masterpiece and already a preview of a dawning age, a new millennium.
Silhouette sent the first “arms” for the new millennium into outer space: the unshakeable, 1.8 grams light, screwless, hingeless and rimless eyewear of NASA – the Titan Minimal Art.
Back on Earth, following the spectacular millennium fireworks displays, everything started off quite relaxed and full of hope, with joyful colours, freedom and humor. Lifestyle and fashion had to make the impression that it took zero effort – as if you had just reached into the closet and grabbed something.
Of great importance were accessories and scents for making a personal statement and the faces of famous actors and pop stars or the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra or the Queen (she has worn Silhouette eyewear for many years now).
Minimalism is what counts. At a time when technologically practically anything is possible, when “anything goes” is not an empty catchphrase, when lightness and lean lines are not simply a promise, but reality. Less means more. Too much is encumbering. To be free of surplus implies a plus in quality of life. At the end of the decade, Silhouette’s barely felt, rimless eyewear invisibly, but highly efficiently, marked the contemporary face and had at last become a magical brand.
Silhouette International celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. The anniversary was celebrated together with the symphony "Passion for Excellence", which Austrian composer Hermann Miesbauer composed specifically for the company and it was performed by 50 students of the private Anton Bruckner University of Linz.
In answer to the question “How can you make a perfect product even more perfect?”, Silhouette already knows the answer. Love of detail plus a great deal of craftsmanship, an individual design and state-of-the-art technologies will ensure even in the future at Silhouette that a quality product will optimally conform to the demands of a certain time – which to a certain extent are already ahead of their time.
Back in the early 1970s it was said: Futura is now. And up to now, having been adapted accordingly to the respective zeitgeist, the stylish Futura eyewear has always shown the way to the future, becoming an all-time favorite.
Today Silhouette is treading paths that were unimaginable visions 50 years ago. On the basis of such a successful history, what are the prospects for the next 50 years? What view do the new technologies ask for, will eyewear be connected to the laptop? 3D shutter eyewear already exists, the iconic ‘Titan Minimal Art’ has already been in space 35 times on NASA missions, which galaxies are they to delve into next?
An abundance of accessories will give the fashion of the future its face – glamorous, sporty, elegant, eccentric… In every regard, eyewear will always be the prime eyecatcher.
And so, bring on the future!